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[87] “Tunicam squalentem auro” 10. 314. The word ‘orichalcus’ (ὀρείχαλκος) appears in Latin to have been applied to a kind of brass of much the same appearance as gold. In Plaut. (Mil. 3. 1. 69, Pseud. 2. 3. 22, Curc. 1. 3. 45) it is written ‘aurichalcus,’—perhaps from a misunderstanding of the etymology of the Greek word,—and is spoken of as a precious metal: comp. Plato, Critias p. 114 E, of the mythical ὀρείχαλκος: Τὸ νῦν ὀνομαζόμενον μόνον τότε δὲ πλέον ὀνόματος ἦν τὸ γένος ἐκ γῆς ὀρυττόμενον ὀρειχάλκου . . . πλὴν χρυσοῦ τιμιώτατον ἐν :τοῖς τοτε ὄν. So Pliny, 34. 2, “aurichalco, quod praecipuam bonitatem admirationemque diu obtinuit, nec reperitur longo iam tempore effeta tellure.” Cic., however (de Off. 3. 23 fin.), speaks of ‘orichalcus’ as of a still existing metal, which might, as far as appearance went, be taken for gold: comp. Sueton. (Vitellius 5), who implies that it stood to gold as tin to silver. Whether Virg. meant this common orichalcus or the more precious metal of fable (“ὀρειχάλκοιο φαεινοῦApoll. R. 4. 973) is doubtful, especially as he has given it the epithet ‘albus,’ which would not strictly suit either. ‘Albus’ must either = ‘pale’ (in comParison with the gold) or ‘shining.’ Horace, A. P. 202, writes like Virg. ‘ŏrĭchalco:’ so Val. Flacc. 3. 61, Stat. Theb. 10. 660, ‘ŏrĭchalca’ (neut. pl.). The arming of Patroclus is described Il. 16. 630 foll. in the same order, but at greater length.

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  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4.973
    • Plautus, Curculio, 1.3
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 2.3
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 3.1
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